01 October 2018

Buns made with pain brioché dough

On Saturday I made hamburger buns that turned out really nice. To make them I adapted a French recipe I found on the internet. Credit for it goes to a man named Fred Chesneau [shay-no] who calls himself le globe cooker and periodically hosts a show called Les Nouveaux Explorateurs on the Canal+ television channel. You can find some of his shows on YouTube.

These buns are made with a pain brioché dough, which means it contains eggs and butter as well as yeast, flour, and salt. Chesneau's recipe calls for sugar, but I substituted honey to make my version. I also changed the instructions slightly, reflecting the order in which I mixed all the ingredients together. I made the dough using French T55 flour, which is the equivalent of U.S. all-purpose flour, and I used a 20-gram chunk of cake yeast (levure fraîche en cube), which I can buy at Intermarché and store in the freezer.

Brioche-style Hamburger Buns
Petits pains briochés — merci à Fred Chesneau

20 g fresh yeast (2 Tbsp.) *
250 ml warm milk
2 Tbsp. honey
100 g softened butter (7 Tbsp.)
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
500 g flour (4 U.S. cups)
1 level Tbsp. salt

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), dissolve the fresh yeast in the warm milk with the honey. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. When the yeast mixture is bubbly and foamy, add to it the softened butter and the egg yolks. Then add the flour and salt and mix all together by hand or using the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes. It should be soft but not sticky. Carefully add more flour or milk as needed. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough into a log shape using your hands and then cut it into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place them all on a baking pan on parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. Let the buns rise in a warm place for two hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Flatten the balls of risen dough slightly. Brush the top of each one with beaten egg white and sprinkle on sesame or poppy seeds. Put them in the hot oven and bake them for 15 minutes. It's a good idea (but optional) to set a small bowl of hot water in the oven with the buns as they bake. The steam it releases into the hot oven will give the buns a good texture and help them rise as they cook.

Take the buns out of the oven and let them cool completely before using them. You can store them in the freezer for later use. We like to split them and toast them very lightly before making burgers with them.

We've been eating a lot of burgers this year, taking advantage of dry, warm (or even) hot weather to cook on the barbecue grill out on the terrace. We grind the meat — we've used beef, veal, and turkey at different times — using the food grinder attachment on our KitchenAid stand mixer, and I use the mixer to knead dough as well. I baked these buns on a black Teflon baking sheet that I bought at SuperU for about three euros. Supposedly, it's re-usable 1,000 times. Do they sell those in supermarkets in the U.S.?

I plan to use this recipe to make a loaf of pain brioché sandwich bread soon, using my Pullman-style covered pain de mie baking pan.

* Read about different types of yeast and measures here.


  1. Ken, this post brought back two memories. The first, these buns except for the sesame seeds, look like that delicious Brussels' specialty, le pistolet. My last very fond encounter with a pistolet was in 1937, but the memory is still very vivid! The second is M. Chesneau who shares the same name with a very good long gone bakery near my place in Paris (at the end of rue de Sèvres, on the other side of the metro viaduct). The only difference in the name was the pronunciation, in this case it could rhyme with Line Renaud.

  2. I hear presenters on the Nouveaux Explorateurs clearly pronouncing Chesneau as [ché-no]. In modern French, the first syllable would be written with a circumflex accent, Chêneau, as it is in chêne and chênaie, and pronounced as above. So I wonder why people pronounced it as [chuh-no] in your neighborhood. Proper nouns often don't follow the rules of pronunciation that apply to common nouns.

    You've mentioned the Brussels pistolet before but I have no personal experience of it.

  3. Ken, where do you set the buns to rise? I've rarely done yeast breads, and never feel quite certain that I know where to put them to keep them just slightly warm enough for rising.

    These look delicious!

  4. Judy, I turn on the oven at a very low temperature (100ºF or so) for a few minutes — just until it comes up to temperature — then turn it off and put the dough in the oven to rise.

    1. I'm glad Judy asked that question. The buns look delish.

  5. I bet they taste as good as they look! Yum! Bon appétit!


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